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Document Type

Comment

Abstract

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) [hereinafter right whales] were severely depleted by commercial whaling, despite protection from commercial whaling as early as 1935. Currently, ship strikes and fish net entanglements are the two primary causes of mortality among right whales, and thus the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has targeted these two areas in its implementation of rules and regulations designed to protect right whales. In 2006, NMFS proposed a new set of regulations designed to implement vessel speed restrictions on vessels sixty-five feet or greater in length, in certain areas and at certain times of the year. This Comment addresses the new proposed regulation, and the comments NMFS received in response to its proposal. In addition, this Comment analyzes whether NMFS has considered all possible scenarios in its proposal for vessel speed restrictions. This analysis includes whether NMFS gave due regard to the myriad of scientific evidence suggesting that vessel speed is a key factor in the mortality of right whales, and what economic impacts this restriction may have on commerce. This Comment also addresses the prior regulations implemented by NMFS, other protections for the right whale, and whether there were other more practicable alternatives to this new proposed regulation.

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